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Rack Room: Montana Mountain Goat of a Lifetime

Hunting these hard-to-draw species is an adventure and can result in a great trophy.

Rack Room: Montana Mountain Goat of a Lifetime

Brice Suhay's mountain goat was the best of both worlds, both mature and big horned. (Photo courtesy of Brice Suhay) 

Brice Suhay drew a prime mountain goat tag close to our hometown of Bozeman. He is mostly likely one of the luckiest people in the state as it only took him 5 years—this equals five bonus points in Montana—of applying to draw a tag with less than .3-percent draw odds. What he drew in five years takes most applicants upwards of 20.

“When I first saw mountain goat ‘SUCCESSFUL’ on the FWP website I was shocked and could hardly speak,” said Brice. “I was at work and immediately called my brother and my best friend. I kept refreshing the web page, thinking it was a mistake and the results would change.”

His hunt began well before season was even close to starting. Draw results came out in May and he started scouting shortly thereafter. While it may seem ridiculous to look at your pursuit animal so many months in advance, this strategy would prove to pay dividends. It was his goal to locate goats, find good terrain, and ultimately learn how to judge a mature billy—a crucial part in having a successful mountain goat hunt.

“The hardest part of the hunt was counting down the days until it began,” said Brice. “It's all I thought about through the summer and also throughout all of archery elk season.”

Rack Room: Montana Mountain Goat of a Lifetime
A serious backcountry hunt like this takes months of physical training in order to be properly fit for the journey. (Photo courtesy of Brice Suhay)

Even though season opener fell on the first of September, Brice chose to wait until October to start his hunt—good, thick hair is a major part of the trophy when hunting mountain goats. The time finally came, and he took to the hills. These hunts are not for the faint of heart—he endured thousands of feet of elevation gain and loss and countless miles on his boots through some of the most rugged country the West has to offer.

He went to spots where he had consistently seen goats and was welcomed by countless animals. Unfortunately, young billys and nannies were all that he could locate for the first several days.

A backpack hunt was in order to save precious miles and to hunt consistently in the high-mountain basins where the big billys were staying—a decision that would make a world of difference. He and his hunting companion Jake Messinger spent the night on the mountain with high hopes of finding a billy in the morning.

When morning came, Brice located a billy that was a shooter. They moved in for a closer look and realized that this was a once-in-a-lifetime billy. He was in a good position, and they believed they could get close enough for a shot. 

A well-planned stalk landed him in a comfortable shooting position 300 yards from his quarry. The first shot rang out on the bedded goat, and it was a solid hit. The billy soaked up the impact from the 200-grain ELD-X fire from his 300 win. mag. and stood up. Another shot rang out and another true hit—the billy soaked up the energy of this bullet as well. A third shot sealed his fate and the mountain monarch fell.

Rack Room: Montana Mountain Goat of a Lifetime
Brice took the time to fully soak up the hunt he was experiencing, but he didn't shy away from the inevitable work of packing out that lay ahead. (Photo courtesy of Brice Suhay)

“I was in shock when jake and I first walked up to him and saw him lying dead,” said Brice. “I just sat down and was silent in disbelief. I was just thinking about how it all went down, how many hours I had spent behind the glass, and how many thousands of feet of elevation gain I had traveled throughout the journey.”

Overwhelmed by emotions, Brice field dressed the goat and began the long packout back to the truck. Upon checking the goat in with Montana FWP—these special draw hunts require the hunter to check in the animal shortly after a successful hunt—he found out the goat was eight-and-half years old and his horns measured at an astonishing 9 and 6/8 inches—a truly phenomenal trophy.

Rack Room: Montana Mountain Goat of a Lifetime
Not only did Brice down a mature mountain goat, he also downed a dandy! (Photo courtesy of Brice Suhay)
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